Primesport NABC Next Generation is an interview series with assistant coaches and support staff from across the country, highlighting their career experiences and future goals. Today's feature is Wake Forest director of operations Justin Bauman.
What inspired you to become a coach?
“During my senior year of high school, I took a liking to my coaches Mike Sorrill and Shawn Murphy. I made up my mind that I wanted to try and coach at some level of basketball. I was always very interested and driven by the process of getting better. After graduating high school, I went to play basketball on scholarship for coach BJ McCullum at Lincoln College for one season. After one season, I decided to transfer to the University of Kansas at the request of Kansas assistant coach Ben Miller. I tried to walk on at Kansas and was cut after the five-day tryout. Upon getting cut, coach Miller asked me to be part of the staff as a manager. All I was able to do my first season was film practices. After that first season, I was elevated to a full-time manager who assisted in practice, drills, office tasks and travel. When coach Williams left Kansas in 2003, Bill Self was hired. I had a relationship with coach Self from working his summer camps at the University of Illinois. Coach Self appointed me head manager to take care of the eight student support staff members we had in the program, as well as assist Danny Manning in his role. After three years with coach Williams and three years with coach Self, I was driven to work at the DI level. I was fortunate that Rex Walters then hired me to be his Director of Operations at Florida Atlantic University.”
What experiences – both personal and professional have shaped you most to this point in your career?
“We accomplished great things while I was at Kansas - four Big 12 regular-season championships, one postseason Big 12 championship, two Final Fours and six-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Spending almost seven years with Rex Walters was huge for my career. Coach Walters is very driven, highly organized, has an unbelievable work ethic and mind for the game. I learned so much from him and still lean on him today. We worked very well together. I recruited three players in our 2012 class and handled all the major responsibilities for the program. At San Francisco, we were the first team at the school in over 30 years to have a 20-win season and play in consecutive postseason tournaments. In 2012, Danny Manning hired me at Tulsa. We accomplished much in two years - a conference championship and a berth in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Tulsa's first appearance since 2003. Here at Wake Forest - going to the NCAA Tournament in just our third year, having players sign professional contracts and working to develop and plan the opening of our new facility have been great experiences. All of these items have been an invaluable source of knowledge.”
What’s the biggest advice you’d give to a first-year coach?
“Dominate your responsibilities and then do more. There are things you will be asked to do that you never thought were in a coach’s job description. However, the only way for you to move on to bigger duties will be to dominate the current responsibilities given to you. Be someone that your head coach, staff and players can trust. You can’t ever be uninformed or unwilling to put in the work to find out the answer. You can’t just be willing to do it for the people you like or when it is convenient for you. Make your head coach look good. It is your job to help them execute their vision. Be a sponge for information and be accountable. Do not be a yes man. If you dominate your responsibilities, know everything about your job. When a coach asks a question about something you have put tons of time and effort into, you must stand up and say with confidence what you believe in. You must interact with the players. They must know that you love and care for them. If you want to coach them hard, you must love them hard. Be an energy giver - we all face stressful issues outside of work. Don’t let those affect the energy and effort you bring to the office. You have a responsibility to the other members of that staff and the players within the program to bring you’re A-game every day. Treat everyone with respect. Present yourself professionally. Be a great communicator. Have balance. The game of basketball will never love you the way your family, wife, children love you.”
Why is developing mentor relationships so important for coaches?
“People in this industry talk. Some are very loyal. It is important to build relationships with other people in this business. Some of my good friends are in similar roles as I am currently. Their knowledge and friendship are invaluable. Treat everyone with respect and build genuine relationships with people. Talk with other coaches about their experiences, go to coaching clinics, attend as many university events as possible, and get involved in your university and community. The more people you develop genuine relationships with, the more knowledge you’ll have. Then you can pass that knowledge off the way it was passed to you.”
What impact do you hope to have on your student-athletes away from the basketball court?
“I hope they see that I try to prepare them for life daily by having quality time management, patience, trusting in the Lord, being loving, respecting people, being positive, and being humble in victory and poised in defeat. I encourage them to be thankful for the opportunity to be getting a great education and playing the game they love.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“The most rewarding part of my job is watching the growth of young men. They arrive not understanding that they do not know everything. Then we get to work with them on basketball and life. They graduate and then come back with their families. It is very rewarding to see the tools we try to give them in the short time they are with us be used later in life.”
What career goals do you have for your future, and how do you plan to achieve them?
“I have many goals, short term and long term. I want to work at the highest level of basketball possible. I believe I can achieve my goals by always working hard, being super organized, communicating clearly, and having great attention to detail and deadlines. I am constantly trying to improve and grow my skill set. If you are ever done learning and growing, then you are simply done - you will not go anywhere in any profession.”